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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear

Well, Fire Enthusiasts, it is the last day of 2010. However, rather that spend a few moments reflecting upon what has transpired or what we hope for with the coming year, I simply wish to publicly offer my thanks to my wife.

You see, prior to 2010, neither she or I really knew what was in store for us regarding our time. We were just caught up in the moment. My dream of being a writer was slowly becoming a reality. In February, my crossover horror/Christian novel was released as an e-book. Next came blogging and attempting to get my name out there. Reviews began to trickle in, eventually leading to my working for a local magazine as a reporter. I then started writing for other blogs on top of everything else. We haven't even discussed the fact that nearly every single moment I was social networking. Soon I had to strap an iPhone to my hip as well. Who knew? Did I mention my 10.5 hour day job?

My wife has been understanding as I race home to my trusty laptop each day after work. She has said very little as I plugged myself in and virtually ignore her as well as my "teen aged" boys. I use that phrase because my 12 year old will not be 13 until late January, but he might as well be one, pretty much doing everything that teenagers do...or don't do! We have him and the 16 year old.

Yet, as my novel was just released as a paperback, and will soon be followed by the sequel, the question remains: how long is this trend going to continue? Are we looking at another year of her having to sit alone on the couch while I hold my nose one foot away from a computer monitor, plugged in?

Therefore, as we navigate through this last day of the year, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my wife. She understands that this is my long-dead dream suddenly revived and realized. We usually do not stay out late on New Year's Eve; however, we typically do take time out for ourselves, seeing a movie and having dinner. You see, not only is this the last day of the year, but it is her birthday as well.

So on this day, I say to my wonderful wife: Happy Birthday...

...and thanks for understanding.

To the rest of you: Have a Happy and safe New Year!

We'll talk soon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Always a tease

4:58 a.m.
“You're kidding!”
“It's true, Candy!” Jane Lynch reassured. “I heard the whole thing!”
“Wow! What I wouldn't have given to see that,” Candace said through rapid breaths, jogging alongside her good friend of more that twelve years. They had been running every day except Friday before work since January. The last name in the office pool had them giving it up by June 1st. It was the $225 dollar pot which helped to keep the women motivated.
“I know. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.”
“Then what?” Candace asked excitedly as they swung left at the Citibank Building from Lincoln Street onto Draper, onto what the locals referred to as “Main Street” which was the very heart of town.
The decorative red brick beneath their running shoes were set at an angle now, seeming to turn with them, or in the very least as a marker to keep them on the course. The Citibank sign before them was also an LED display, giving both time and temperature. It flashed 5:01 a.m. and then 49 degrees Fahrenheit, but neither paid it any mind. This would be the coolest day of the week, and it was cold enough already without having to see actually how bad it was. They just kept up their pace and continued on their way. Shade trees and large blue celebratory banners which hung from blue poles lined the course now on the right; a Mexican Restaurant, pizza joint and other shops on the left.
“He told her everyone was complaining. She hadn't done a thing since they’d been sleeping together, marching about like a queen, treating everyone like she was the new CEO after a hostile takeover.”
“Ain't that the truth?”
Jane continued, “She said some B.S. about how she never realized she’d been doing that. She’d be better from now on...”
“Sure, now!”
“But see, by this time, he's not even listening. It’s over. She doesn't know it yet.”
“Wow!” Candice exclaimed as they jogged from cement sidewalk back to brickwork.
On the right, a tree planter area bordered the next intersection. Most of the streets throughout Main Street were decorated in similar fashion. This particular one contained shrubs, flowers and other greenery kept very well groomed by the Model Drug Pharmacy which was located across from it.
“I haven't gotten to the good part.”
“What?” Candice asked as they crossed Smith Street and continued west. Their usual route took them westward through town where they would eventually cross Draper at California Street and then head back for home. The two friends lived one block from each other and both worked for a large payroll firm in town. They were more like sisters than friends. As their footfalls reached the sidewalk once again, bringing them across the entrance of the Bank of America. They paid little attention to the police cars that sat silent and unoccupied there on the street.
“Her jaw literally dropped when he told her she was fired!”
“Wow!” she exclaimed once again as they reached their normal rest stop between Gino’s Italian Eatery and Apple Dumplin’ Antique store.
It was here that they allowed themselves ten minutes to rest. The area extended its entrance on Draper to the alley that ran behind the restaurants and shops. A sign had been recently erected pointing the way through to the historic old jail that sat behind the newly refurbished Fire Station. A large orange Swedish Dala Horse statue stood before them as if guarding the site. In fact, it wasn't to dissuade, but to invite. Two stone tables and two wood benches sat there encouraging visitors to stop and sit for a while. There were small trees in stone planters, and one fully grown shade tree and four screens installed for holding back the squelching 100-plus degree summer days which arrive all too soon.
“Stupid vacation days! Always happens! Take a day and someone either quits, gets caught with someone in the copy room or gets fired.” Not that the copy room had ever been used for anything other than the occasional mild flirt session.
Jane continued her workout by jogging in place while Candice leaned over, feet spread apart, her hands on her knees to catch her breath beside the Dala Horse. "Then security came in and handed her stuff already boxed up."
“Shoo!” Candice winced with surprise, waving a hand across her face to do away with two flies that had suddenly materialized before her face. She stood upright and stretched her back, raising her hands behind her head. She took a step and a half into the area as something caught her eye. Her left hand went immediately to her mouth and her eyes ballooned as what she was seeing was being made clear. Jane didn’t see it, nor could she hear the faint whimpering over her own labored breathing.
“Then Jack points at the open door in his office and tells her,” Jane continued, still running in place, slipping into a bad imitation of their boss's voice. “'Call my wife! She’s had two lovers herself this millennium.'”
Candice reached out blindly with her right hand and squeezed Jane's left arm, her other hand still frozen against her mouth as if sealing a crack in a dam. It was all that she could do. Never in a million years could she have found the words to describe to her friend the horror that was displayed there in the former alleyway, now all ornate brickwork and tree planters, cement tables and mutilated policemen.
“Hold on,” Jane attempted to continue, glancing down the street, oblivious to the grizzly scene behind her. It was not until she felt her friend’s freshly manicured fingernails begin to dig through her sweatshirt that she started to understand that something might be wrong. She just had no idea how horribly wrong it was until Candace suddenly yanked her forward to share her find. “What’s gotten into you, Candy?” she demanded and then fell silent.
Before them, in the very heart of the space, stood that solitary tree; it poked its canopy between two screens and into the nautical twilight. Before it grew a shrub in a stone planter surrounded by rail ties. Nick Mancuso was in that planter as well. The woman froze. “Jesus!” she whispered, stepping back in shock. Candice Gutierrez never heard it.
Police Officer Nick Mancuso didn’t hear the woman either. He was long past the ability to hear or see or feel anything. His only salvation was that he had been long dead by the time that his head had been wrenched free from his neck and impaled atop a corroded metal spike. It stood there as some grotesque warning, but for just what no one could yet know. Above the head, shoved violently through the screen there hung the rest of him. His outstretched arms reached limply forward just as welcoming as that Dala Horse or the “Valkommen” banners that preceded it. The photo was framed by the famed Kingsburg water tower rising 122 feet high above. In 1985 it had been transformed into a giant coffee pot, decorated with floral motifs in red, blue, yellow and green.
Now this city was being forever transformed.
Jane looked away before the first wave of vomiting struck her. It splattered hard atop the sidewalk, but Candace couldn’t hear that either, thankfully. She stood transfixed by the eyes seemingly staring back at her; the frozen open maw, screaming in silence.

Now that my debut crossover horror/Christian novel is finally available in all formats, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to offer another short teaser. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope everyone can see that my work is graphic when it needs to be without being disgusting. For those not interested in being preached to, I hope you will trust that I incorporate religion without being right in your face there, either.

Thanks to everyone who gives the novel a chance.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Revenge of the Siren Song

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Did everyone survive Christmas? I read that there were quite a few who were ill, and for those, I hope your health has returned in time for New Years.

Many of you might have visited in the past week, or saw on Facebook that my e-book has been released as a paperback now as well. It was a lovely gift to receive; perhaps even better than that stack of iTunes gift cards or dvds, but those were pretty darn good, too. So, in honor of the paperback's release, I will be offering another brief glance at the novel, probably tomorrow. Before I do, however, I want to share with you a novella that I just read. It is entitled, "Revenge of the Siren Song" and it was written by Michelle Stinson Ross.

If you find yourself growing tired of all the vampires (I hope not), then this might be just the change of pace that you need. The Siren Song is a pirate ship, you see, as is The Black Dragon and The Ocean's Mistress. In fact, there are ships and pirates and the British Navy seemingly everywhere.

The following is the blurb that can be found on the Smashwords site: Danger and adventure await in this tale from the Golden Age of Piracy. As deadly as she is beautiful, Captain Grace O'Malley is not the only threat in the Caribbean. She must strike an alliance with an old flame in order to continue to ply her trade upon the tropical sea. But the burning passions of Liam O'Shea threaten to unravel all her plots and plans.

Many of you might be asking yourself the same questions that I was before buying this book: Pirates? Really? Other than seeing the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films and always enjoying the ride at Disneyland, I'm not actually the biggest pirate fan in the world. However, mixing the intrigue of double and triple-crosses, historical accuracy that you won't believe, as well as rich, multi-layered characters, makes this a quick and entertaining piece of work.

Though I didn't know much about the history of the subject, Stinson does an excellent job of getting it right. You can just tell. From the detailed locales, to the dress, to the customs of the day, the reader is transported to a time and place as if he or she had just stepped from a time-machine.

Upon reaching the end, I did find myself left with questions which I counted as a good thing. All of the major characters had come together, lives had been turned upside down and hearts had been toyed with from every direction; however, only more questions seemed to be raised, with there being much Stinson could do with them all. Was this merely an intermission? A tantalizing first part? Was this just the first canon shot preceding a much larger work? One can only hope so, because although not usually my particular cup of tea, I find myself interested now. What could occur should Captains Liam O'Shea, Grace O'Malley and Elizabeth Shireland meet again?

What better way to grow accustomed to the new Kindle, Nook, iPhone, iPad, etc., than to download yourself a copy of Revenge of the Siren Song. It costs as much as three songs on iTunes and it's a quick entertaining read.

We'll talk soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dance on Fire - Paperback

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Having two posts back to back must be some sort of record, don't you think? Actually I think it ties a record.

In any event, since my novel, "Dance on Fire", was released last February, many have bought the electronic version, be it for Kindle, Nook, iPhone or just to read on a computer, and I thank all of them. Having said this, many have continually asked me about a potential paperback version. For those, I am pleased to join Vamplit Publishing and announce that the paperback is now available at Vamplit's store.

With the rise of e-books, brick and mortar stores are really beginning to feel the heat and that is unfortunate. Just as vinyl gave way to cassettes and eventually cd, paper novels may also one day give way; however, there is still something special about holding one's novel in your hand, just as I did all of those writers that I adored growing up. Therefore, you can well imagine how I will feel that day my novel arrives at my door and I can sleep with it beneath my pillow.

Too much?

Fine, I take it back.

No, I don't.

We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A review and a bit of news

Happy Hump Day, Fire Enthusiasts! Are you enjoying your week? I hope so. I know with the whole build up to Christmas there are always lists to be checked off, tasks to be performed, and though we may have a lot of time, it ends up getting eaten by something or another. Before we know it, it has gone.

As I might have mentioned before, I am on a two week vacation. No, I'm not going anywhere. During the holidays, I just love to be home. So I'm sitting at trusty lap top, at my dining room table with its festive table cloth, and drinking coffee out of a holiday mug. The table, which normally sits in the Dining Room for eleven months out of the year, has now been moved to the west side of our Great Room, so I have a great view of my Christmas tree, etc., etc. The down side is when the television is on it is a terrible distraction. Thankfully, all is quiet at the moment. My wife is reading the paper and having her coffee, and my teenagers (who stay up entirely too long) are still asleep behind their closed bedroom doors. Okay, I know what you're thinking. Am I sure the teenagers are in bed and have not snuck out through windows? Well my 16 year old has plenty of freedom, so he doesn't need to do that. He's got my truck more than I do!!

As I promised, I finally got some reading done. I read an epic novel by my good friend Carole Gill. I had looked forward to this because she writes some dark stuff, so I was particularly curious. I was not disappointed, and, if you are drawn to the dark side, neither will you be! I had fully intended to post that review here; however, since I rarely have an opportunity to review something this dark and sinister, I felt compelled to post it over on the Something Wicked This Way Comes blog that I "try" and contribute to. If you are unfamiliar with that blog, it's probably by accident. We have a collection of writers there that you already know: Nicole Hadaway, Marissa Farrar, Jevron Mc Crory and some other dude, but I forget his name... ;) I hope you'll check out my review and give us a follow.

One last thing before I leave you. The California Alliance For Jazz selected my 16 year old son for the 2011 CAJ/CMEA All State Jazz Choir. It is a huge honor for him. Only 16 students were selected across the state and he was one of them. He actually let slip an expletive-deleted and lowered his head in disbelief when he got the news! I was so proud! Lol! Okay, I was proud of the honor and less proud of the swearing, but both my wife and I understood.

With that, I shall leave you now. My Kindle beckons...

We'll talk soon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reading again

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everybody doing this holiday season? Are you finding yourself stressed with all of the details? Are you perhaps actually finding time to sit back and enjoy the lights, food, decorations, etc.? I hope so.

You see I just went on vacation from my day job. You remember? My alarm wakes me up at 3:00 am. I'm in the office by 4:00 am. I have over one hundred employees. I work about 11 hours a day. As they say, it's a living.

In any event, I am now on vacation for two entire weeks. I have a post that is due for Wicked Writers this Friday, and I have an article due in early January for Kings River Life Magazine, but other than that, my schedule is clear. Couple that with the fact that the manuscript for my second novel in the Dance on Fire series, "Dance on Fire: Flashpoint", has been mailed to Vamplit Publishing, all I really want to do now is enjoy my decorated house...and read.

You see, with the hours I usually work and the schedules that I had been maintaining with regard to articles and posts, there has been no time for reading. So that's really want I want to do now.

For those of you who know me on Goodreads, you may have noticed that it claims that I have been reading "The Passage" by Justin Cronin for a long while. The truth is I abandoned that book a long time ago. I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so, but could not stay interested once the first batch of characters had made way for another. I recall that the novel was getting really good buzz; however, unless some of you encourage me to keep trying, I'm walking away.

But that's okay. My Kindle is now full of new novels by several of you that I really want to read. I just began "The House on Blackstone Moor" by a great friend of mine, Carole Gill. With any luck she will be joining us on Wicked Writers very soon and I cannot wait. This girl has some series skill. I am just under 20% of the novel and I am really loving it. I'm not sure where it's going, though I do have my suspicions. We'll see whether Carole has tricked me or not.

Another novel that I want to get into is "Grave Echoes" by Erin Cole. I have read a few of her stories and I am intrigued to see what she's got up her sleeve. I also have "The Dark Road" by Marissa Farrar. Her first novel was very good, and I'm not just saying that because she's my pal, or because we're both on Vamplit. I've also picked up a few others: "The Strangers Outside" by Vanessa Morgan, "Shredder" by Garry Charles and "The First Kill" by Darcia Helle.

In the not-exactly-my-genre-but-am-very-interested-none-the-less column, I have "Revenge of the Siren Song" by Michelle Stinson Ross and "The Hating Game" by Talli Roland. Many of us watched excitedly and rooted for it as Talli's novel attacked Amazon during the first day of it's release.

If I have enough time, I would also like to tackle a couple of big time authors: Patricia Cornwell and Pat Conroy. Cornwell has a new novel in her Kay Scarpetta series, entitled "Port Mortuary". Conroy has a new offering about some of his favorite books, entitled "My Reading Life".

One of the things I haven't managed to do very well is offer reviews. I hope to change that during this holiday season. We'll see.

I hope the holiday season finds you well and hopeful.

We'll talk soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Greetings and Merry Christmas, Fire Enthusiasts. If the greeting offends you, it certainly isn't my intent. In fact, sometimes it is more to inspire me to not allow the hectic time to overshadow how much I love December.

As many of you know, I have been writing for an on-line magazine, a couple of blogs, completing my manuscript for the second book in my Dance on Fire series, as well as working my 10.5 hour day-job. It is very easy to miss Christmas when you have schedules and deadlines like that. Right? I know many, if not all of you, are dealing with much the same. For those of you who share a fondness for this particular time of the year, I hope you, too, will be able to slow down enough to be able to enjoy it as well.

In the meantime, since my novel is safely in the hands of Vamplit Publishing and I am in between assignments at the moment, I am taking part in "The Hop". It's been far too long, I know. I look forward to meeting new people as well as reconnecting with "old" ones.

This week's question was introduced by Angela over at Library Girl Reads: "What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs? Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?"

My answer to this is equal parts: 1) to do PR for my novels; 2) to keep up with what is new with regard to other novels and film and music; 3) to cultivate relationships with people who are living their dreams, too. I think were I to discontinue writing, that I would still continue networking with all of the new friends I have made this past year. Everyone has been so supportive and warm and friendly that I just don't see how I could walk away from that.

I hope to see you on The Hop. Have a great weekend.

We'll talk soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dance on Fire Teaser

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Now, don't say it! I know what you're thinking. Two posts within mere days of each other - just what's going on here? Well, I promised that I would get back to keeping this blog up, didn't I? Now that the manuscript for Dance on Fire: Flashpoint has been delivered to Vamplit Publishing, I intend to keep that promise.

It has been quite a while since the last time that I posted a teaser of my first novel, so I thought that I would give you another piece. This section comes directly after the Prologue which I have posted previously. I hope you like it...

May 5, 2008
4:18 a.m.

“Are you sure you’re not going to get in some sort of trouble for this?” the young man asked for the third time. His shift at the glass plant began at 6:00 a.m. In the meantime, he was visiting his new girlfriend.
“No, Jeremy,” Kingsburg Police Dispatcher Lainie Bishop answered. “Will you please relax? We’re just talking! You’re over there, I’m over here, and nothing is keeping me from doing my job. Now let it go!”
“Kingsburg, one-five-nine.”
“See,” she said, taking her hands away from her lap and presenting them to him, palms up. “I’m doing my job.” Lainie put one foot on the thinly tiled floor and pushed off, spinning her chair back around toward the microphone and keyboard which was her charge. She keyed the base microphone. “One-five-nine, go ahead.”
“Ten-ninety-eight, Draper Street doors.” That was shorthand police talk. The Dispatcher was being informed that the task of checking that all of the businesses along Draper Street were secure was accomplished. There had been no doors found to be unlocked, nothing amiss. “One-six-one and I will be ten-twenty at the fourteen hundred block of Draper.” More Police talk; very official.
“Has CPS arrived to pick up that minor?” the officer asked, still official-sounding, but less serious.
“That’s a negative, one-five-nine,” Lainie responded professionally, although the question had been far from it. It was an inside joke.
“What minor?” Jeremy asked, but not before his new girlfriend had released the microphone. CPS was an anagram for Child Protective Services. Jeremy was freshly nineteen years old, while Lainie was five years his senior: a fact which lent itself to much ribbing and sarcasm toward the woman by her co-workers. On her end of the line, she sighed quietly. On the other end, down on Draper Street between Marion and Smith Streets, laughter erupted.
“You,” Lainie answered, dropping her head dramatically into her left hand as if in defeat, her short blond hair falling forward. She couldn’t hear the laughter or see the faces twisted in glee, but she could certainly envision it quite easily. She looked back meekly at the young man, slightly embarrassed for him, but mostly for her. He wasn’t the one who had to work with these guys.
After having introduced Jeremy to some of the members of the swing shift who had found him visiting the dispatcher, some of the officers had begun volunteering to return before ten o’clock and drive the “boy” home before curfew. Others had been less charming. Lainie just knew that Officer Browning, the jerk partner of the voice on the other end of the radio traffic just now, had been the one to plant the pacifier into her lunchbox tonight. “Please, Jeremy,” she asked. “Don’t say anything while we’re miced.”
“Ten-four,” Officer Mancuso completed the conversation, still snickering about Jeremy’s pubescent-sounding voice coming over the airwaves.
“Man, Nicky,” Mancuso’s partner begin the tired argument. “I'm tellin' you, football is boring without Dallas kicking San Francisco's ass!"
"Mm-hmm!" Officer Nick Mancuso grunted, stepped near a yellow and green fire hydrant and spat a small wad of greenish, yellow phlegm into the street. It made an ugly unmistakable splat which he tried to ignore. He could not see the small mass in the dark, but had heavily evacuating his nose and throat for two days now, so he could well imagine it. The cold in his lungs was getting worse, he knew. Just exactly how he had caught a Spring cold, he still could not figure out. He had no allergies to speak of and was hardly ever sick. Yet, here he was. Sure it was 50 degrees outside and the Graveyard Shift in a small town where nothing ever happened. However, dressed in multiple undershirts, a Kevlar bullet-proof vest, black clothing and twenty-five pounds of equipment clipped to their belts, one could hardly tell.
Officer Lawrence Browning was the younger of the two and he sounded the part. Brash, often unthinking, he many times uttered an increasingly insensitive and stupid comment, realizing too late his mistake. They had been partners now for eighteen months. Eighteen long months.
Mancuso stared at him incredulously. "And yet it seems to me that we kicked your Cowboy ass the last time we played! Do I have that right?”
“When was that?”
“Funny you can’t remember!” he added, sarcastically. He half-choked on another piece of phlegm that suddenly broke loose, catching it quickly in his mouth before swallowing it by mistake and evacuating it, too.
Officer Mancuso was almost six years older than his partner with five more years of experience. He was five-feet, eleven inches tall; black hair; thin build. His partner was six-feet, four inches tall; blonde hair, blue eyes; muscular and fully prepared to call his own number on fourth-down and goal with a long two yards to go for the winning touchdown. Though both men hailed from California, Browning looked the part, while Mancuso looked as if he had just emigrated from New Jersey. He was 180 degrees from the type of character that Browning was. Quiet and reserved, he was often accused of being shy or introverted, a notion which could not be further from the truth. Instead, he was a people watcher. Where others might lose themselves with daydream, the detective within him was always analyzing others. While waiting for his wife in the Fashion Fair Mall up in Fresno, he would pass the time by studying the faces and mannerisms of everyone around him.
Mancuso reached into his shirt’s left breast-pocket for his pack of Winstons and offered one to his partner, which finally shut him up. Browning quickly accepted a cigarette from his partner and leaned close while Mancuso fished around his patrol car keys in his right pants pocket for his San Francisco 49ers lighter. When he had it he lit Browning's cigarette first and then his own. He hoped that the sight of the 49ers emblem and colors would not set his partner off again.
Browning’s eyes lit up just like the tiny flame when he saw the hated team come just inches from his nose. “Look,” he attempted to pick up the argument where it had been left off.
“C'mon, Larr!’” Mancuso quickly interrupted before exhaling cigarette smoke into the cool early morning air. “Don't you ever shut up? No wonder Alicia left you!”
Browning took a long drag and then pointed his cigarette at his partner. “Cold shot, Nicky. Alicia split 'cause I didn't make enough to support her decorating habit.” He paused. “Besides, I think she likes her men a little more...feminine.”
“Oh, hell!” Mancuso turned and spat again. “Here it comes.”
“No, seriously!” Browning continued, undaunted. “Have you seen that guy? What a wuss! You know, to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure he had a...”
“Well,” Officer Mancuso quickly cut him off before he was given the graphic details of the man’s genitalia. “I’ve met him before. I thought he was a nice guy.”
Officer Browning took another long drag and then grinned as he blew it out. “See, that’s why you’re not allowed near the junior high!”
Officer Mancuso raised his hand before his partner’s tanned face and thrusted one solitary middle finger upward in playful response.
“Ooo! Baby,” Browning went into his undersexed collegiate freshman girl imitation. After having spent so much of the past eighteen months together it was quite possibly the only skill that Officer Mancuso could identify his partner having.
“You're a sick man, Larry.”
“Pardon me, Officers,” a voice suddenly appeared behind them out of what had once been an alley but was now a small picnic area between Gino’s Italian Eatery and the Apple Dumplin Antique shop.
The police officers spun: Mancuso lighting his heavy Mag-lite flashlight, while Browning ripped his police issue Glock 22 from its holster and pointed the .40 caliber weapon in the direction of the voice.
“Gentlemen!” the man shouted weakly, offering his empty hands out before him to demonstrate to the men how unarmed and quite safe he truly was. Mancuso's flashlight bathed him in artificial light. He was a Caucasian male, standing at least as tall as his partner with straight long dark hair, probably black, framing a fair-skinned face. He had a better than average build, wearing a long brown leather coat, designer jeans, with large motorcycle riding boots to match.
“Put your frigging gun away, Larry,” Mancuso whispered, reaching out with his free hand and nudging his partner.
Browning immediately lowered his weapon. “What did you expect me to do, Nicky? He scared the... You know you scared the shit out of me, Sir!” Browning berated the man.
“I apologize for it, gentleman,” the man said with an embarrassed grin as he lowered his hands and carefully approached. “It was...inexcusable.”
“You're damn right!” Browning continued his assault. “You might get your ass shot off one day!”
“Thank you, Officer. I will keep that in mind.”
“Give it a rest, Larry.” Mancuso ordered, turning off his flashlight. “What can we do for you, Sir?”
“I wondered if you might allow me one of those cigarettes?”
“Sure,” Mancuso answered, reaching into his shirt pocket for the Winstons. “It's probably the only way to keep the blood flowing this early in the morning.”
“Ah, but my Dear Officer,” the man began, taking the offered cigarette, “there are certainly more ways than this to keep the blood flowing, as you say, on such a beautiful and perfect night.”
“Got that right!” Browning said, in part still trying to calm down. He tossed his spent cigarette behind his partner and into the gutter. “I know exactly what you mean.”
“Do you?” the man asked, turning the officer’s direction, seeming genuinely interested.
Mancuso shook his head as he fished around inside his pants pocket for the lighter once again. If the stranger did not entirely guess where Browning was headed, he certainly did. Sex! It was the only thing Larry Browning ever had on his mind. He just wished that his partner would be more selective in deciding when to mention it. Locating his lighter, he raised it to the man's face and attempted to ignite it.
“Oh, yeah!” Browning continued. “There's nothing like an all-nighter to get my blood flowing.”
Suddenly, as if it were the most amusing thing that he had ever heard, the man standing before the officers threw back his head and roared with laughter. It echoed loudly around the rest area, the sound reverberating within the area there between the brick walls. It did not dissipate immediately, but seemed to hover there just like the Tulle fog that blanketed the Central Valley in the winter.
At first, Browning joined the laughter, thoughts of a pair of long firm lightly tanned legs locked around his waist still fresh inside his perverted mind. However, something quickly and decisively ripped the image from his head. There was something about that laugh that caused everything about the morning to suddenly feel much cooler than it was. As if he were just a simple child again and not a graduate of the Police Academy and Fresno State University with a degree in criminology, the sound seemed to haunt him down to his very bones.
Mancuso felt it, too. And now, bringing the cigarette lighter to life seemed all but impossible for him to manage.
“Allow me to assist you,” the man said, no longer giggling but using a tone dripping with both mocking amusement. He casually took hold of Mancuso's hand.
Officer Nicholas John Mancuso shuddered at the touch. He had never experienced any winter like this man's fingers. They felt cold and lifeless. He remembered one night during his first year while training with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, when they had responded to the ranch of an elderly male who hadn’t been heard from in four days. This man's flesh was just as dead as Mancuso’s first corpse laying there in a heap on that bathroom floor.
On the man's first attempt, the lighter came. Both officers jumped as it flickered to life. “There we are,” the man said with a smile and then leaned close to the dancing little flame to light his cigarette. “You see, that was no trouble at all.”
Mancuso and Browning did see. They saw the impossible.
Mancuso looked deeply into the man’s eyes: they were black and cold and lifeless. They looked like a shark’s eyes right before he bites into you.
This man standing before them still clutching onto Mancuso's wrist was dead as well, with blemishless skin that appeared as smooth as a white satin sheet pulled tightly over a bed in a suite at the Ritz Carlton. Only this was no bed, but a grown man's face with holes cut out for eyes and a mouth. And gleaming teeth.
Mancuso was still thinking of that shark when he beheld the vampire’s incisors. Browning must have thought the same thing because he quickly went back for his gun. He got it as far as the top of his holster before the man's free hand sprang like a trip-hammer, cutting through the air between them. The attacking hand never seemed to get close enough to the weapon, but it obeyed him just the same and leapt out of the officer's grasp. Browning stood there dumbfounded, his empty hand held high as if he carried some new prototype invisible blaster, and was preparing to use it to vaporize this creature standing before them.
Mancuso's heart sank as his eyes followed after the fleeing Glock as it skipped into the shadows of the former alley.
He still had his gun, but apparently not the necessary courage.
“Now I've done it!” the man flicked the unsmoked cigarette into the deserted street in disgust. “I must once again apologize for my behavior, gentlemen. It seems that I have a flair for inspiring fear in the hearts of men.” He paused briefly with a sigh. “Ah! All is not lost. As we were discussing, before I made a most incredible mess of things, there are indeed other, I think, more splendid ways to get the blood flowing, as it were.”
And he roared with laughter again.

We'll talk soon,



Friday, December 3, 2010

New Beginnings...

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Yes, I know what you're thinking: Who are you? Well, there's a reason behind me not posting as regularly as I would have hoped; or for not visiting the blogs of my dear friends.

Between deadlines for Wicked Writers and Kings River Life Magazine, I have been working on the sequel to "Dance on Fire". Just moments ago, I sent the 117, 520 word sequel entitled, "Dance on Fire: Flashpoint", to Vamplit Publishing.

Notice how I didn't say anything about hanging out with my kids or my wife...or sleeping. Okay, it wasn't that bad. *head desk* Just kidding. The other thing that I haven't been doing is reading anything. I have been filling my Kindle with stuff, and many of the books are some of yours, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. You see, I had hoped to have delivered my second video blog, but between all of the deadlines, my allergies kicked in. The last thing I think you want to listen to is me incessantly clearing my throat, so hopefully I will continue to improve. What I want to do is to do a vlog that addresses all that I have been up to with regard to writing, music I'm listening to now, films I have viewed, etc.

Lastly, and more importantly, I wanted to let you know that Wicked Writers has moved from one blog to another. Please come on over and give us a follow. I promise that, although we are now in a new location, we will continue to provide you with exactly what you had grown accustomed to getting from us.

Before I go, I would like to thank you all for sticking with me as long as you have without a whole lot of interaction from me, either here or on any of your sites.

I hope to change this immediately.

Take care and Happy Friday.

We'll talk soon.